Rental market is hurting more

LAST week contracts were exchanged on my family's first home. I haven't been shy about the milestone and my intention to vent 18 years of rental frustration with gratuitous hammering of countless picture hooks.

Since word got out of my imminent departure, the door hasn't stopped knocking with friends and acquaintances desperate to inspect my rental home, if only to secure an inside lane before it becomes listed.

One single mum - a full time teacher - had been left with no option but to sell up and return to the rental market because of a minor dual occupancy compliance issue which has effectively bankrupted her and left her elderly tenants homeless. Another working family came knocking because they just couldn't afford recent rental hikes.

Each February, as uni goes back, The Northern Star hears stories from crisis accommodation workers about mothers risking their families in violent situations because they can't compete with uni students for rents.

A full-time salary is not enough to guarantee affordable housing, according to a report released by Australians for Affordable Housing today. The report shows that the housing crisis is hitting working Australians who traditionally would be looking at home ownership.

It's not like councils have their heads in the sand. Lismore City Council, for example, has invested $12 million in the Southern Trunk Main project, which will allow land to be developed as part of its low-cost housing strategy.

But meanwhile it's hard to ignore the desperate knocking.

According to CEO of McGrath Real Estate Agents, John McGrath, the rental market in the Northern Rivers is predicted to only get tighter.

"City investors are increasingly looking to regional areas for affordability and strong yields but fewer first buyers and an increasing number of sea/tree change families choosing to try before they buy means rents are likely to rise and vacancies will remain low," he said.

While I won't miss the uncertainty and humility of the rental race, I'll be hammering a picture hook in frustrated empathy for the many people I know in rental dire straights.

The rental game

  • First-time renters need to work harder. On your application form, mention any board or rent paid to parents or other family members.
  • Offer to pay two months rent in advance or up to six months, to prove you're serious.
  • Make copies of the rental application forms and have them filled in BEFORE you arrive to inspect and hand in your application first.
  • Be prepared to pay the rent and the bond within 24 hours of inspecting the property and make this known.
  • Set aside weekends and make a timetable. View as many properties as possible and use a camera to document whirlwind inspections.
  • Agents favour a direct debit for payment. Apply with your bank details.
  • Housing NSW can help with housing pathways. See if you are eligible at

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